The short term anti-immigrant freakout will equal long-term problems

By Amanda Marcotte
Wednesday, August 11, 2010 13:47 EDT
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Part of me almost flinched to imagine the lip-smacking glee that reporters got out of pushing Marco Rubio—the son of Cuban immigrants—on the issue of whether or not he supports the 14th amendment. The problem here is that there’s no way to ask the question that doesn’t carry the implication, “How much of your basic dignity are you willing to peddle out to get votes?” Because there’s exactly no chance that there’s enough political momentum going to repeal the 14th amendment, which means the entire issue is one of racist grand-standing. Rachel Maddow explained the issue on her show:

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In sum, asking the question, “Do you wish to repeal the 14th amendment?” is a way of saying, “Is your campaign angling to get the racist vote by taking potshots at the children of immigrants?” And lest any motherfuckers whine that this is just about the children of illegal immigrants, let me point out that without birthright citizenship, there’s a strong possibility that the children of legal immigrants would lose a whole shitload of rights as well. One thing the birthright citizenship does is expedite the process of integrating an immigrant family into the U.S. If that was replaced with a system where the baby also had to go through an onerous citizenship process, then that would not only be an unnecessary headache, but would likely create a bunch of stateless people. I don’t imagine Rubio enjoys having to answer a question that is functionally, “Would you prefer to rewrite the laws of the country so someone like yourself is a second class citizen?”

The terse response from one of Rubio’s campaign aides only reinforces my sense that this whole exercise is basically insulting. By the way, I found this part of the Orlando Sentinel coverage amusing:

The crusade against illegal immigration is interpreted by many Hispanics as a crusade against Hispanics.

Which is a way of saying, “Many Hispanics perceive reality accurately and adjust their votes accordingly.”

That this election cycle is being dominated by racist resentment is a matter of fact, not opinion. This is all very simple. A lot of loud-mouthed Tea Crackers are spreading racist myths like it’s gonna get them laid, Republican politicians feel this is an issue to demagogue about, and this increases the presence of these myths and stereotypes in the mainstream media. The end result is, I suspect, that none of the racist legislation the Tea Crackers want gets passed, but the Republicans do a bang-up job of establishing themselves as the Party of Racists right when the country as a whole is becoming more racially diverse and less racist.

Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte
Amanda Marcotte is a freelance journalist born and bred in Texas, but now living in the writer reserve of Brooklyn. She focuses on feminism, national politics, and pop culture, with the order shifting depending on her mood and the state of the nation.
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